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Country Stars Who Have Stood The Test of Time

In today’s society, there are so many trends that come and go, some lasting a week and others months. We see the same in the music industry with certain beats and styles coming and going on the radio. While we see change, some artists have stayed constant and continue to put out great music for fans for decades. Below are some of our favorite artists that are still making waves in the industry decades later and have stood the test of time.

George Strait
Strait is not called the “King of Country” for nothing. With 60 #1 hits, the most in history, ACM Artist of the Decade, and a Country Music Hall of Fame member, no one is taking Strait’s place anytime soon. From early hits like “Fool Hearted Memory” and “Amarillo By Morning” to more recent ones including “Give It Away” and “It Comes Natural”, the country icon proves that classic country music is still cherished. While Strait is not on the road touring anymore, he does play select weekends at the T-Mobile Arena for his residency and a few other events. There may not be many more opportunities to see the legend himself sing 20+ number one hits a night, so make sure you get a piece of the action while you still can!

 

Reba
Reba may have started as a rodeo girl, following in the footsteps of her father, but now she is one of country music’s biggest icons. McEntire is the only country female solo act to have a No. 1 hit in four straight decades: the 1980s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s, and it is easy to see why. Hits like “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, “Fancy”, “Consider Me Gone” and collaborations including “The Heart Won’t Lie” with Vince Gill and “If You See Him/If You See Her” with Brooks and Dunn, put her on the top of the charts. When Reba was an up and coming artist, her tenacity and talent helped her blaze a path for females in country music. The Oklahoma native is still a very relevant part of the industry with her new album Stronger Than The Truth and her Las Vegas residency with Brooks and Dunn.

 

Artists That Have Stood the Test Of Time

Garth Brooks
While Strait has the most #1 songs in history, “The Thunder Rolls” singer has the most awards. Brooks has 2 Grammys, 17 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, 24 Billboard Music Awards, and 26 number 1 hits, just to name a few. While he is known as a tried and true country artist, his ability to integrate pop and rock elements into his music leaves people converting to country after each listen. Brooks is still selling out 50,000+ stadiums every month on his stadium tour and new music like “All Night Long” and “Dive Bar.” Bringing unbelievable energy to each show, Brooks’ legacy is growing bigger and better each year and shows no signs of stopping.

 

Brooks & Dunn
After sitting down for burritos one night, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn decided to take a chance at becoming a duo after their record label had been mentioning it for weeks. That may have been the best decision they ever made for their careers. Building a large fan base across the world, 25+ ACM Awards, 2 Grammys, 17 CMA Awards and more, the guys made a very long successful run. Years later, the duo is one of the best selling duo’s country music has seen. While they split up after their greatest hits album to do their own ventures, their brand new REBOOT album with upcoming artists including Luke Combs, Midland, and Kasey Musgraves, Brooks and Dunn have put themselves at the forefront of the music scene once again. Their old hits are getting more airplay on the radio, new collaborations are landing them TV appearances, and the Vegas residency with Reba keep the “Neon Moon” singers booked all year.

 

Alan Jackson
Making Chattachooche a household song isn’t the only thing Alan Jackson is known for. His career was built around traditional country music, driven by twangy riffs and a honky-tonk vibes. Upon coming to Nashville, Jackson wrote all his own songs and made heads turn left and right with his ability to tell a story through music. With upbeat songs like “Gone Country,” “Living On Love,” and “Don’t Rock The Jukebox,” he has a somber side that you can see in certain songs. One of the biggest songs that got people’s attention was “Where Were You,” his song commemorating the 9/11 terror attacks, one he won a Grammy for. With 30 years of music, touring, awards, and a loyal fanbase, Jackson is still going strong playing shows across the country. While he has stopped putting out music in recent years, you can still find his classic sound in the gospel album he made for his mom, Angels and Alcohol.

 

Kenny Chesney
There are a lot of artists in the industry that go to school for something other than music but find themselves pursuing their hobbies anyways, Kenny Chesney is no different. He went from majoring in advertising to graduating and heading to Nashville to play the local honky-tonks. Fast forward a few years later and a new record deal and Chesney is cranking out hits such as “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and “In My Wildest Dreams.” Rolling into the 2000s was filled with sold-out shows across the country and #1 records, most of which landed on Billboard’s Top 100, making Chesney one of the most successful crossover country artists. Chesney is the king of stadium tours, selling out arenas all over the country in the last 5+ years and fans new and old are coming to watch the 4-time Entertainer of the Year. Setlists include “Summertime,” “Living In Fast Forward,” “Young,” and new hits “American Kids,” and his latest “Tip Of My Tongue.” Being out on the road takes up most of Chesney’s time nowadays although he still finds time to create powerful songs like “Get Along” that calls on all of us to love one another. We caught Chesney last summer at MetLife Stadium when he sold-out the epic venue.

 

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
One of country music’s power couples has not retreated to a normal lifestyle just yet. Making over $100 million on their Soul2Soul tour alone, the couple is still making music. McGraw has put out a few singles in the last year(“Neon Church” and “Thought About You”). Together the duo released a touching and emotional album The Rest of Our Life in sync with their tour. Hill does not tour anymore although McGraw has been playing quite a few festivals like Stagecoach and Cheyenne Frontier Days. Both have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and together in downtown Nashville as a part of Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame. Both singer-songwriters have made such a huge contribution to country music, Hill paving the way for female artists and McGraw tearing up the charts proving that if a small-town boy from Louisiana can make it, you can too, with grit and determination. They have served the Music City community with their beautiful voices, kind spirits, and southern charm for decades, making them some of the most lovable people not only in Nashville but across the world as well.

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NYCS First Impression Reba ‘Stronger Than The Truth’

Reba Stronger Than The Truth

Almost immediately, one can sense that there’s something inherently different about Reba’s album, Stronger Than the Truth (out April 5). It speaks to the soul in a way most modern country albums fail to. On each of the collection’s twelve tracks, the famous redhead flexes her impeccable vocal talent, her distinct voice wrapping itself around each syllable and emotion in a way only a master of the craft can do. While many of her younger contemporaries rely heavily on pop beats, collaborations, and cookie cutter lyrics, Reba truly strikes a different chord on this release.

Stronger Than the Truth is truly a standout in a sea of sameness that seems to envelop Nashville much of the time. The indisputable legend is stronger than ever here, with an album that is country to its core. From the opening strains of “Swing All Night With You,” it’s evident that this isn’t an album targeted at country radio. It’s an album targeted at country fans.

Since the earliest days of her long and storied career, Reba has been a captivating storyteller. There are few other singers who could’ve delivered “Fancy,” “The Night the Lights When Out in Georgia” or “Whoever’s New England” with the same charisma and conviction. On her new album, Reba steps effortlessly back into those types of narratives, and in an era laden with beer and back roads, it’s a welcome change of pace.

An immediate standout of the album is “Cactus in a Coffee Can,” a track that hearkens back to the heyday of the story song. Here, Reba sings of a chance encounter with a brokenhearted stranger on an airplane. While the song title may seem silly at a glance, the song is incredibly well-crafted and moving. “She started talking and pain poured out,” Reba sings of the girl named Elaina, whose mother gave her away on the day she was born. She admits that she searched for her for ten years, finding her when “she was almost gone.” “We had two weeks together, to laugh and to cry, two weeks to say hello and goodbye.”

Heartbreak is a common theme throughout Stronger Than The Truth, threading its way through songs like “The Clown,” “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” and “The Bar’s Getting Lower.” On the latter, Reba plays the role of a woman who’s giving up hope on finding true love, willing to settle for something less than the best to ease her loneliness. She was waiting for pink champagne, but as life passes by, she’s willing to lower the bar and settle for “well whiskey.”

On the piano-driven “The Clown,” written by Dallas Davidson, Hillary Lindsey, and James Slater, Reba is a woman forced to put on a brave face as life goes on around her after heartbreak. “So you paint a big smile on your face to cover that frown,” She sings of a relationship being ended in a crowded restaurant. “In that room full of jokers and jesters, sometimes you’re the clown.”

While the ballads here are powerful, there’s no shortage of sass on Stronger Than the Truth. There’s the album’s opening track, the snappy “No U in Oklahoma” and the up-tempo “Storm in Shot Glass.” On “Storm,” Reba tells the tale of a scorned woman drowning her sorrows in alcohol. “You better run for cover,” She warns. “She’ll just order another.”

The album’s penultimate track is the anthemic “Freedom,” most remnant of Reba’s “Love Revival,” with it’s Gospel-tinged country stomp. Here, Reba is strong and empowered, belting “Loving you feels like freedom” over soaring guitars. Here, she’s revealing it all, realizing that she’s come out on the other side, and is finally free. “I’ve searched high and low/ Been to hell and back/ Been a prisoner to my soul / And all I know is that/ The price of being free/ It don’t come cheap.”

The album ends on a sweet note, a simple piano-driven ballad that’s a letter of gratitude to her 91-year-old mother, Jacqueline. “I’ve been told I’m not enough by everyone but you,” Reba reveals to the listener. “You never gave up on me/ I’m here where I was always meant to be/ I never gave up/ ‘Cause you never gave up on me.”

While it would be easy for the 64-year-old songstress to rest on her laurels and release same-ish music or cave to contemporary trends in an attempt to maintain relevance, there’s none of that here. On Stronger Than the Truth, Reba is authentically Reba, and that’s really all country music really needs right now.

Reba McEntire, Stronger Than the Truth Track Listing:

1. “Swing All Night Long With You” (Sidney Cox, Jon Randall)
2. “Stronger Than the Truth” (Hannah Louise Blaylock, Autumn McEntire)
3. “Storm in a Shot Glass” (Mary Browder, Will Robinson, Leslie Satcher)
4. “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” (Brandy Clark, Mark Narmore, Shelley Skidmore)
5. “Cactus in a Coffee Can” (Steve Seskin, Allen Shamblin)
6. “Your Heart” (Kellys Collins)
7. “The Clown” (Dallas Davidson, Hillary Lindsey, James Slater)
8. “No U in Oklahoma” (Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn, Donna McSpadden)
9. “The Bar’s Getting Lower” (Kellys Collins, Erin Enderlin, Liz Hengber, Alex Kline)
10. “In His Mind” (Reba McEntire, Liz Hengber, Tommy Lee James)
11. “Freedom” (Jay Brunswick, Tommy Cecil, Jaida Dreyer, John Pierce)
12. “You Never Gave Up on Me” (Billy Aerts, Burton Collins)

To keep up with Reba, follow her on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Stronger Than the Truth is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

 

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What We’re Listening To: March Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our March picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

MARCH PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere” – Chad Brownlee
Songwriters: Cary Barlowe, Donovan Woods, Todd Clark

This month I’m listening to Chad Brownlee’s “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere”. The song paints the picture of making that first move whether in a dive bar, on a train, in a crowded room, etc… the idea that for any relationship to begin, it’s got to start somewhere, anywhere first. 

“I know what you must think /Another guy tryin’ to buy your drink / Two for one on a Tuesday /
How can a good thing start this way / Well it could end up anywhere / Forever’s gotta start somewhere”

I love the idea behind these lyrics and paired with the catchy rhythm of the song, it makes it easy to sing along to and keep on repeat.”

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Ten Year Town” – Hailey Whitters
Songwriters: Brandy Clark and Hailey Whitters 

“I’m twelve years into a ten-year town”  That is the opening line of this incredible song. From the moment I heard it the day it was released, I knew it would be my pick this month.  Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville when she was just 17 years old and has been paying her dues since the day she got there. In a time when pop production has taken over the country genre, this track is simple and Whitters’ voice is delicate, almost melancholy as she explains the struggles she’s dealt with.

“Waiting tables another month, waitin’ on that break to come / all it’s ever done is break my heart”

Whether it’s a songwriter like Whitters who is waiting for that big break, just like a ton of artists in Nashville or co-writer, Brandy Clark who has been nominated for six Grammys but can’t get airplay on country radio, we are all looking to find our little place in this industry.  For me, this track can resonate with anyone waiting for validation in any career, music industry or not.

“Payin’ dues don’t pay the bills / Dreams come true, and I think mine will / lesser fools would have given up, they don’t go for broke like a dreamer does, ya gotta get back up when you get knocked down, I’m twelve years into a ten-year town, this next song could turn it all around”

I hope that I can be a small part of allowing others to hear this song and to take notice of amazing artists and songwriters striving for the spotlight.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Chapters” – Brett Young feat. Gavin DeGraw
Songwriters: Brett Young, Ross Copperman, and Gavin DeGraw

Like Young, I am also a huge Gavin DeGraw fan. He has always been one of my favorite artists so I was very excited to see him on Ticket to LA’s track listing.

“Chapters” is a true story about Brett Young’s life and his love for baseball growing up. Young received offers from Tampa Bay and Minnesota after high school but turned them down to play in college. However, an elbow injury ended his career which made him get into songwriting. Clearly, it worked out well for him, but his ability to turn the page and start a new chapter is what got him through that tough time in his life. Young and DeGraw explain throughout this very powerful and moving song that just because things didn’t work out the way you intended, doesn’t mean you failed; God had a plan the whole time.

“Every page you’ve turned is a lesson learned / And we all, and we all, just tryna get it right /
These are the chapters of my life.”

Nicole Bochinis, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Brand New Man” – Brooks & Dunn feat. Luke Combs
Songwriters: Don Cook, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn

“Brand New Man” by Brooks & Dunn is one of my favorite country songs. I grew up listening to it with my family during BBQs in the summertime. When I heard that Luke Combs was going to be a part of a reboot for the song I couldn’t contain my excitement. I heard Combs cover this song the first time I saw him live and let me tell you, he does an awesome job and the crowd sings every word with him. Having one of your favorite artists cover a song you love is one of my favorite moments at a show. He’s such a great addition to this song and I’ve had it on repeat since it was released.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Keep Abilene Beautiful” – Carlton Anderson
Songwriters: Carlton Anderson, Tom Douglas, Tony Lane

“You don’t have to be from Abilene or Texas to love this song. It’s lyrical, vocal and (traditional-leaving) instrumental perfection, evoke a very palpable sense of longing for the familial and familiar warmth we’re sometimes too far away from. And, needless to say, Carlton’s performance of this personified song coupled with his personal connection to the said city in Texas really bolsters the impact “Keep Abilene Beautiful” has on our heartstrings. Personally, I’m rooting for this to be his next single at country radio. With the standing ovation, he got at his Opry debut and the reaction this song is seeing, it could very well be a career-defining one for him— if given the chance to be heard on the radio.”

 

Taylor Felvey, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Sad Song” – Mike Ryan
Songwriters: Mike Ryan, Brent Anderson, and Clint Lagerberg

“San Antonio native, Mike Ryan gives a soulful take on a love song on his Album Blink You’ll Miss It.  The ballad tells the story of a love affair caught in a vicious cycle. It’s a relationship that’s headed nowhere, and will certainly end in heartbreak as the lyrics take you through the tumultuous situation.

“I watched the taxi cab take you away / I was the one left alone in the rain / I’ve drained a few bottles /
Stared a hole through my phone / I’ve come to grips with the fact that you’re gone /
And here you are standing in tears at my door / I don’t know what to tell you / I’ve heard this one before”

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Try Saying Goodbye” – John King
Songwriters: Paul DiGiovanni, John King

“I have always loved John King’s upbeat songs from “Tonight, Tonight” to “Heat Wave” although I feel King has never got the attention he deserves. As an amazing songwriter, including Randy Houser’s “We Went”, his newest slow song “Try Saying Goodbye” hits a new chord. The song explores the difficulties of relationships and singing in the chorus, King thought sorry was going to be the hardest thing he would have to say, turns out goodbye is. The main theme of the song is to not take things for granted and be okay with admitting when you are wrong, never letting your pride get in the way.

With such a powerful message, I thought I could not be more compelled to press replay, but I was wrong. The paired music video was also done so well and certainly makes you emotional listening to the song and reflecting back on your own past relationships. Looking ahead, King has new music in the works for the coming year and I cannot be more excited to support him as an independent artist.”

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” – Reba
Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Mark Narmore, and Shelley Skidmore

“In country music, there are few voices that are as instantly recognizable as Reba’s. In the weeks leading up to the release of her new album, Stronger Than the Truth, the Queen of Country has been releasing a string of new tracks, each showing a different side of the superstar. On “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” co-written by the genius that is Brandy Clark, Reba sings of a cheating man, admitting that “standing by your man, well that’s a broken plan.” Lyrically, the song is absolutely brilliant, weaving in and referencing various Wynette songs to tell the tale of a broken heart. However, it’s Reba’s delivery that makes the song a true masterpiece, as you can absolutely hear the sorrowful ache in her voice. Knowing that Reba went through her own divorce a few years ago, it’s hard not to wonder if she drew upon her own heartache when recording the song. Either way, it’s a powerful performance that once again reestablishes her as the undisputed Queen of the genre.”

 

Olivia Reese, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Gone West” – Gone West
Songwriters: Colbie Caillat, Danelle Reeves, Jason Reeves, Justin Kawika Young

“I’ve absolutely loved the message in “Gone West” by Gone West. Although it can be difficult to leave what you’ve always known the adventure can be worth risking it all, “Sailin’ off to search the islands / Gone west for somethin’ new.”

Additionally, the harmonies with folk undertones are what initially drew me to the song as I have a proclivity for loving harmony bands. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gone West.”

 

Nicole Sellati, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Give Up The Ghost” – Lauren Jenkins
Songwriters: Emily Shackleton and Lauren Jenkins 

“From the moment I first heard Lauren Jenkins’ song “Give Up The Ghost” off her soon to be released debut album, No Saint, I instantly fell in love with it. From the very first listen I knew this was going to be one of my go-to songs to sing at the top of my lungs while blasting in my car. She combines the essence of rock and country into this song creating the ultimate jam, while the lyrics tell a story about a former flame causing a disruption in a present relationship.

“I know I could make you happy / Baby, if you’d only let me / But two of us is one too many / Open the door and set her free / Give up the ghost, hold onto me”

It’s my favorite song released from the album so far and I can’t wait for No Saint to come out this Friday!”

Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “To Hell and Back” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Maren Morris, Jessie Jo Dillon, Laura Veltz

“I’ve had Maren Morris’ new album GIRL on repeat all month long and I absolutely love every single song, but this one sticks out to me as being the most vulnerable track on the record. The story told in this one is so beautiful. It’s about a partner’s willingness to love you fully and freely and I just love everything about it.”

“You didn’t save me / You didn’t think I needed saving / You didn’t change me/
You didn’t think I needed changing / My wings are frayed and what’s left of my halo’s black /
Lucky for me, your kind of heaven’s been to hell and back”

 

Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Ol Muddy River” – Dee White
Songwriters: Dee White

“This month, I have Dee White’s “Ol’ Muddy River” on repeat. I heard White and his band perform last year when opening for Ashley McBryde and I was hooked on this song ever since he sang it live.  “Ol Muddy River” is a classic vintage country song with a catchy guitar twang and fiddle.  White singlehandedly penned “Ol’ Muddy River’ and tells a story about going to a river that brings him peace and tranquility.  He sings about his admiration for a place where he can go to escape problems with lyrics:

“All my life’s been wild like the river, so he and I really get along just fine /
Everything’s easy at the Ol’ Muddy River / You know that’s where I like to spend all of my time”

When I listen to “Ol’ Muddy River,” I can easily picture myself fishing and not worrying about a thing!  White released his debut album Southern Gentleman on March 1st, and a week later he made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry.  I am so excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for him!”

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “A Song For Everything” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz, Maren Morris

“My March song pick came super easy this month.  The second I heard Maren Morris’ sophomore album GIRL, I instantly fell in love with the nostalgic ballad “A Song for Everything.” It is everything I never knew I always needed in a song. The song is essentially an ode to music for always being there for us, as we go through good and bad experiences in life.

When I was looking for the words / Somebody said it first like they knew me / They were singing right to me /
One danced you through love / One rocked you through lonely / Mixtaped your heartbreak and made you feel holy / For the hits and the misses / For the fire and rain / Close your eyes and listen /
‘Cause there’s a song for everything, yeah / There’s a song for everything / There’s a song for everything”

Ironically, I’m sure that this song will be one of those memorable tracks that I attach to future experiences for a long time coming. Thank you to Maren Morris and her co-writers for penning this monumental song.”

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

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Reba McEntire Inducts Dustin Lynch into Grand Ole Opry

Dustin Lynch Opry Induction

Photo Courtesy of Grand Ole Opry, LLC / Chris Hollo, Photographer

Tuesday night (Sept. 18), platinum-selling Broken Bow Records star Dustin Lynch stepped into the famed wooden circle of the Grand Ole Opry for what would be the night he was inducted into the family. After singing a few of his hit songs, iconic entertainer and Opry member Reba McEntire surprised the singer onstage to induct him as the Grand Ole Opry’s newest member.

Back in August, Trace Adkins surprised Lynch with the exclusive invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. McEntire welcoming Lynch as an official member came as a complete surprise to the “Good Girl” singer. Clearly shocked and emotional, Lynch thanked his friends, family, bandmates and everyone who plays a part in his career. He later shared, “I wouldn’t have wanted to be inducted by anyone else … Reba’s the top of my list. She could have been anywhere in the world today and chose to be here. That means so much to me.”

Dustin Lynch & Reba McEntire, Opry Induction

Photo Courtesy of Grand Ole Opry, LLC / Chris Hollo, Photographer

Lynch made his Opry debut back on March 2, 2012, singing his breakthrough hit “Cowboys and Angels” from his self-titled debut album. The track later went platinum-certified.  Since then, Lynch has racked up five more platinum or gold #1 singles (“Where It’s At,” “Hell of a Night,” “Mind Reader,” “Seein’ Red” and “Small Town Boy”) and three Top 5 Country albums (Dustin Lynch, Where It’s At and Current Mood).

Aside from the Opry induction and the surprise of Reba McEntire, even more good news was in store for Lynch on his special night. Backstage, BBR Music Group Executive Vice President Jon Loba stepped up to surprise the star with a special commemorative plaque certifying over 1 billion digital streams throughout the course of his career.

Meanwhile, Lynch’s energetic current single “Good Girl” is making its way up the Country radio charts, and its action-packed video is live now. Up next for Lynch is a high-profile performance at the all-genre iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, NV, on Saturday (Sept. 22), and he’ll team up with Cole Swindell and special guest Lauren Alaina for the “Reason To Drink… Another Tour” beginning October 4 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

For tour dates and more information visit DustinLynchMusic.com.

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Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
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